Phyllis drew the chair close and sat down. Her eyes were bright and unclouded.

“It’s a good thing I wasn’t sure it was you who had that key,” Shayne told her easily. “Else I would have known it was you who peeked in the other night-and I might have suspected you had killed Charlotte Hunt out of jealousy.”

Her eyes dropped before his. “I saw plenty-to make me jealous.”

“That’s what you get for sneaking in through kitchen doors at such an ungodly hour,” Shayne pointed out. “I was in a tough spot that night, but business is business. I got enough dope from her to solve the case.”

Phyllis shuddered and said, “Ugh! Let’s not talk about it.”

“I,” Shayne told her, “will be very happy to forget Miss Hunt. But where the hell have you been hiding?” He lifted his glass and took a long drink.

Phyllis laughed with carefree pleasure. “Right here in a downtown hotel. I’ve seen you on the street twice. And, oh!” she went on exultantly, “I’m all cured. Just getting away from that horrible house has made me well. I haven’t had another single one of those spells of forgetting.”

Shayne nodded. “That’s one thing that didn’t get into the papers. Pedique made a full confession just before he committed suicide. He was trying to drive you crazy, angel, with a mixture of drugs and hypnotism. I burned his confession.”

“Thank God.” Tears swam unashamed in the girl’s eyes. She reached out her hand, and Shayne gripped it tightly. “You’ve been-wonderful to me,” she breathed.

Shayne grinned, released her hand, and patted it. “You’re the kind of kid men like to be nice to.” He swung up awkwardly and went into the kitchen, saying, “By the way, I’ve got something here that belongs to you.”

He opened the refrigerator and took out the hydrator, brought it in to the table while Phyllis watched with wondering eyes.

“Don’t look,” Shayne said.

Phyllis obediently closed her eyes while Shayne dug under the lettuce with his left hand and brought out the shimmering pearl necklace.

Going around behind her chair, he dropped it down over her head. His hand strayed toward the curling tendrils of hair on her neck, but he jerked away before touching her, and his face was expressionless as he moved from behind her.

She opened her eyes wide, and her hand flew up to the necklace. “But these are yours,” she exclaimed. “They were your-what do you call it-your retainer.”

Shayne sat down and shook his head. “No, darling. Tough as I am, I can’t take a retainer from you.”

“But you’ve earned it,” she implored, lifting the pearls from her neck and thrusting them at him. “It’s little enough for what you’ve done. I know it was you who did all the work on the case.”

Shayne pushed the pearls back toward her. A diabolic grin lurked at the corners of his mouth. His fingers closed over the folded sheet of paper and crumpled it up. “I’ll get along,” he assured her.

Phyllis didn’t say anything. She stared at him bright-eyed, seemingly struggling with words which would not form themselves.

Shayne poured himself another small drink and said slowly, “You and the boy are the sole heirs, eh?”

“I-suppose so.”

Shayne toyed with his glass. “The estate isn’t very large. I imagine Montrose has been stealing from Brighton for years, getting even for the raw deal he felt Rufus handed Julius.”

She made a little gesture and said, “I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. I have enough money for the present.”

Shayne drank some cognac. He said, “I just wanted you to know-after all the ruckus is cleared up and forgotten, there’s a genuine Raphael in the possession of an artist friend of mine which belongs to the estate. It’ll be worth a pretty good pile of dough.”

“A Raphael? But the papers said-”

“The papers,” Shayne told her, “don’t know a hell of a lot of angles on this case. It’s genuine, all right. I had Pelham Joyce paint a bum ‘Raphael’ on top of the new signature Henderson had put on for smuggling purposes and then a second fake ‘Robertson’ on top of that. That made four signatures piled up on each other. Only two were scraped off by the time the shooting started. The bottom signature is authentic.”

Phyllis drew in her breath unevenly. “You’re a remarkable person-and I owe you a lot.” Her fingers crept out and touched Shayne’s hand.

Shayne drained his glass. He said, “It’s fun being nice to you, angel.” Then he patted her fingers and went on with a grin, “It’s been a good case. There’s only one thing I’ll always regret-that those two mugs busted in on us just when they did that first night.”

Phyllis stood up. There was something very close to adoration in her eyes. She said breathlessly, “You needn’t-regret it any longer.”

Shayne looked up at her for a long moment from beneath raggedly bushy brows. “What are you trying to say?”

She returned his gaze bravely, color flooding her cheeks. “Must I-draw you a blueprint?”

Shayne lurched to his feet. Phyllis swayed toward him. Her eyes were clear and unashamed.

He caught her shoulder with his sound hand and turned her toward the door, muttering, “God help me, I almost weakened once before.”

He let go of her in the doorway. She stood rigid, her back toward him. His lips brushed the top of her hair, and he said huskily, “Wait a minute.”

She stood like that without turning while he strode back to the table and picked up the pearls. He came back and slid them over her head, growling, “Go out and grow up. Then come back, and we’ll do something constructive about it-if you still feel the same way.”

Her hand went up to touch the pearls. “But you-you can’t afford to take cases for nothing,” she faltered. “And the newspapers didn’t even give you a line of credit.”

“I’ll get along,” he assured her, “without the credit. But-if you insist-I will collect a slight fee.”

His one arm turned her slowly so her luminous eyes gazed unflinchingly into his. She swayed back against his arm and trustingly lifted her lips. Shayne leaned down and collected more than a slight fee, then sent her away with a little push, closing the door behind her.

His face was morose as he went back to the table and poured himself another drink. Something new had come into his life-and gone out of it.

His brooding gaze fell on the folded sheet of paper listing his cash receipts on the case just finished. He opened it out and read the items slowly. The muted beat of evening traffic drifted up from the street below and into the room through an open window. The sound was not unlike the rumble of a distant drum, but Shayne’s mind was occupied with other things, and he paid no heed to it.

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